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20th Annual Student Chemistry Adventure brings chemistry to life for area high school students

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20th Annual Student Chemistry Adventure brings chemistry to life for area high school students

By Lori Dugan

Thatcer, AZ—Eastern Arizona College’s Chemistry Department hosted the 20th Annual Student Chemistry Adventure last week. Dr. Phil McBride, Joel Shelton, and Dr. Michael Neary welcomed over 50 high school students from Duncan, Morenci, Safford, Thatcher, and Willcox. The students began the adventure in the College’s Gherald L. Hoopes Jr. Activities Center. Dr. Gary Sorensen took a few minutes to showcase Eastern Arizona College and describe the academic and extracurricular possibilities available to these students by attending EAC.

On their way to the Math/Science building to begin the competition, the students stopped at the sand volleyball pit to witness a demonstration of thermite, presented by Mr. Shelton’s organic chemistry students.

The team competition began with 60 minutes of short chemistry activities, with teams composed of 2-4 students. These team activities involved exciting chemical reactions, determining the density of glass marbles, accurately measuring the thickness of aluminum foil, and determining the concentration of copper solutions.

The students continued with a laboratory experiment to determine the molecular weight of a volatile liquid. Students placed an unknown liquid in boiling water causing the liquid to vaporize. Using Gas Laws, they were able to determine the molar mass of this liquid. Teams were graded on laboratory technique, calculations, safety, and accuracy.

After a wonderful lunch by Sodexho, the participants put their minds to work answering questions covering a variety of chemistry concepts.

While results were being tabulated, EAC’s organic chemistry students, led by Joel Shelton, dazzled the high school students with dancing flames, lightning in a bottle, exploding gummy bears, and an array of other colorful, loud, bright, and exciting chemical exhibitions.

Dr. McBride presented medals to all of the participants and expressed thanks to the high school chemistry teachers for their efforts in providing quality instruction to their students. The Safford High School team of Nathan Montierth, Leo Rocha, Alicia Smith, and Monique Ungerman, received the first place medal and a team plaque. Second place medals and a team plaque went to the Thatcher High School team of Jaeron Johnson and Dallin Sanders. Third place medals and a team plaque went to the Morenci High School team of Kenneth Burkett, Anthony Garcia, Nils Koppe, and Kim Ortega.

A special thank you goes to high school teachers Steve Ahmann (Morenci), Duane DeSpain (Safford), Becky Bell (Duncan), and Ty White (Willcox) for their expertise as instructors and ability to provide quality education for their students.